AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


Proximity Matters in Stroke Care

A recent study published by the CDC discusses the importance of telemedicine for improving quality of stroke initiatives at hospitals in the Southeast.   The report identified deficiencies in timely access to Joint Commission Primary Stroke Centers (JCPSCs) in the tri-state area of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, part of a region known as the ‘Stroke Belt,’ recognized by public health authorities for having an unusually high incidence of stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers categorize ease of access by measuring 30 and 60 minute drive times to JCPSCs. Not surprisingly, they reported a significant disparity: only 26% of people living in rural areas lived within a 30-minute drive time to a Stroke Center compared to 70% of those in urban areas. They next compared drive-times and stroke death rates within these states. Many of the counties with the highest stroke death rates were outside the 30-minute drive-time areas.

Stroke is a medical emergency. Rapid treatment is a defining factor in achieving better patient outcomes.  Many hospitals are looking to telemedicine, an alternative strategy to expand provision of quality acute stroke care in the region, particularly to underserved populations. Telestroke networks drastically reduce the time it takes for rural citizens to gain access to neurologists who can diagnose and treat the emergency.

Patients living outside of the 60-minute travel window from JCPSCs are still at increased risk.  However, Georgia continually expands the scope of its telestroke networks in an effort to afford proper emergency care access to all citizens statewide.

 


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